High School Football

A new formula will determine FHSAA football playoff rankings. Here’s how the system works

The Florida High School Athletic Association’s playoff points system for football is no more.

The FHSAA abolished the two-year-old points system in favor of a new way to determine playoff teams and seeding for their eight classifications.

The FHSAA is using an RPI (ratings power index), which was a popular rating tool for college basketball’s March Madness tournament for many years, to select playoff teams and seed them accordingly.

The RPI formula is 35 percent of a team’s winning percentage, 35 percent of your opponents’ winning percentage and 30 percent of your opponents’ opponents’ winning percentage.

Scrapping the points system, which was based off earning fixed point totals based on strength of schedule — more points for beating a quality team, getting rewarded for losing to a quality team and receiving bonus points for playing a previous playoff team — in favor of an RPI formula began on Jan. 10 at the FHSAA football coaches’ advisory committee meeting.

The coaches, which were representatives from each section in the state, approved of the RPI format, which was backed up on Jan. 16 at the FHSAA athletic directors’ advisory committee meeting.

On Monday, the FHSAA Board of Directors voted 11-3 to implement the new RPI system effective for the 2019 football season.

Winning a district still guarantees automatic qualification as was the case in previous playoff systems used. Seeding and the remaining qualifiers will be based off RPI.

Here are the reasons for the change as well as other items of note surrounding the new system, according to an FHSAA press release:

  • RPI creates a more accurate method for playoff qualification and seeding, the old points system was shallow and using bonus points was scheduling havoc.
  • Instead of another system, the RPI formula is more transparent with the three components being known, which leads to more accuracy for all.
  • Only regular-season games are counted in the RPI format and only games against varsity opponents.
  • Out-of-state opponents are counted the same as in-state opponents.
  • The FHSAA will continue releasing updated standings beginning in Week 6 like it did the past two years. They will be published Tuesday at 2 p.m. on FHSAA.org.
  • Margin of victory does not matter.
  • Canceled games do not matter, because the RPI is based on an average.
  • Official RPI is based solely off scores reported on MaxPreps.
  • Tiebreakers used for teams with identical RPIs are as follows: head-to-head, winning percentage, opponents’ winning percentage, opponents’ opponents’ winning percentage, highest-rated win according to final RPI standings, next highest-rated win exhausting all possibilities.
Sports reporter Jason has covered high school, college and pro sports since joining the Bradenton Herald in 2010. He’s won Florida Press Club awards for sports feature and column writing. He currently writes college and pro sports stories for the McClatchy East Region real-time team.